I have been thinking about this topic lately and here is the conclusion I have come up with.
Lets start with what is not important in a listing agent.
1. They don't need 50 designations behind their name to make them a good listing agent
2. They don't need lots of experience listing. They need lots of experience getting their listings sold.
3. They don't have to work with a firm that has a Recognizable name.
In my opinion, here are the six most critical things you need to ask a listing agent if her or she does in their service to you.
1. The listing agent you hire needs to know how to do a CMA and adjust for every comparable that they use. Simply put, it is important to compare apples to apples. There are several adjustments to take into consideration. Size of home, condition of home, and age of home are just some of the things appraisers use in an appraisal. This is the only way to get an accurate value.
2. The listing agent you hire must be aware of whether sales are trending upward in your neighborhood or trending downward. As lenders will only use comparable properties that are four months or less in age, you will most likely have to adjust your price more than once during the listing period as the comps are going to change (possibly quite dramatically) during the listing period. Your agent needs to stay on top of this and recommend price adjustments accordingly.
3.Once you get an offer in, your agent should do another market anaylsis to make sure what has closed since the agent took the listing is going to justify the selling price.
4. Your agent must not only be good at math, here or she must be great with a camera. With the vast majority of buyers starting their search on the Internet these days and agents doing their hunting for the best homes to show their clients, your agent needs to sell the features and benefits of buying your home over any other for the same price. Ask for samples pictures of the homes that they have listed now or in the past and see what you think of their photographic capability.
5. They must be able to get your listing uploaded to every major directory on the Internet for maximum exposure.
6. I saved the most important point for last. It doesn't matter how many listings an agent has.
THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS HOW MANY OF THE LISTINGS AN AGENT HAS TAKEN THAT HAVE ACTUALLY SOLD
I can proudly say that I have listed and sold 95% of the single family home listings that I have taken in my long career during the initial listing period, so I speak from experience.